Unlike most accounts of World War II, Allan M. Winkler details the period of U.S. involvement through the civilian perspective in Home Front U.S.A.: America during World War II. Though the overseas war effort was staggering, Winkler's focus is on the behind-the-scenes endeavors that took place in the United States from 1940 to 1945. From the mobilization process to the social and political climates, Home Front U.S.A. is laden with intricate details of the crucial, but often forgotten, war contributions. While the reader may find Winkler's monograph too tedious for pleasure reading, Home Front U.S.A. serves as a thorough reference book for the World War II buff and the novice alike.
Rather than take a chronological approach, the author examines four broad topics in his study: mobilization for war, American society, women and ethnic groups, and politics. He then breaks these topics into more specific subtopics, such as women in the war, campaigns, and popular culture, making this account a valuable reference for researching the civilian aspect of World War II. Winkler writes the book using numerous other sources such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.'s Age of Roosevelt: The Politics of Upheaval and Peter Irons' Justice at War. His history, therefore, includes many references to books which may also prove useful to the reader.
Though brief, Winkler's monograph reads like a textbook and abounds with facts, figures, and statistics about the American civilians' war effort. Consequently, for the pleasure reader, the book may prove a struggle to get through. A sentence in the chapter on mobilization, for example, reads: "total federal outlays increased from $8.9 billion in 1939 to $95.2 billion in 1945, and simultaneously, the gross national product rose from $90.5 billion to $211.9 billion" (19). Similar tedious sentences occur throughout the book. After considering the material in the book, however, the reader will better understand the monumental changes imposed on the American people during these crucial years.
The textbook style of the work makes it difficult for all but the most enthusiastic World War II scholars or buffs to read without their mind wandering. Therefore, this book lends itself as a good reference source, and not as an intriguing bedtime read. Disregarding the style of Home Front U.S.A., however, the content effectively examines many aspects of American life and culture during the United States' involvement in the war. While Winkler's account contains no pretense of a stylistic masterpiece, the thorough content makes Home Front U.S.A. a valuable read for the attentive student of World War II.